Dogs and humans have been working together for thousands of years, and the partnership is normally great for everyone. Dogs are great pets and can help keep your home secure, but dog ownership isn’t without perils. Pet owners are liable for the harm their pets do, such as biting people. Pet owners and guests both play a role in stopping potential problems. Here are five things you can do to prevent dog bites.
Give Your Pet a Good Start
Dogs have personalities, and aggressive dogs are more likely to bite people. When you adopt a dog from a well-managed animal shelter, the staff and volunteers should be able to fill you in on the dog’s background, personality and behavior in the shelter. Dogs with aggressive tendencies or abusive backgrounds aren’t the best choice for a home with kids or random guests. Another thing you can do when you get your dog is to have them spayed or neutered as soon as possible (as early as eight weeks for healthy puppies). Spayed or neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.
Socialize Your Dog
Dog bites happen when the animal is anxious or scared, which can occur when the dog is exposed to unfamiliar people or situations. Socializing your dog prevents them from being frightened by everyday situations. Allow your puppy to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places, and things. Socializing helps dogs feel more comfortable and friendly in situations where other dogs could become aggressive. Helping your dog to socialize makes them a better companion for you and allows you to trust them around new people.
Train Your Dog
Training your dog also decreases the likelihood that they will bite someone. Use a reputable, reward-based training program to reinforce positive behaviors. The training teaches your dog good behavior and how to listen to your commands regarding behavior. These classes work best when your dog starts at an early age. If your dog ever shows aggressive tendencies to someone, even if no one was hurt, take them to a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) for professional help. These specialists can help solve potential issues before they lead to a dog bite incident.
Always Supervise Children and Dogs
According to the CDC, children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog, and incidents involving children are more severe. Children can inadvertently do things that startle or frighten a dog, which can lead to biting incidents. Experts recommend never leaving a child under 10 years old alone with a dog unsupervised. Parents should also teach children how to treat dogs gently and respectfully. For example, kids should know not to bother a dog while they are eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. And while you don’t want kids to be scared of dogs, it’s vital they know to ask for permission before petting someone else’s dog.
Know the Warning Signs and Common Triggers of Aggressive Behavior
Dog bites rarely happen without warning. Besides barking and snarling, some aggressive dogs will try to make themselves look bigger. And dogs that are anxious or scared may try to make themselves look smaller or retreat to a safe place. If you see these signs, dog owners can take action and fix the situation that’s concerning your pet. Pet owners should try to figure out if there are common triggers for the aggression that can be avoided. For example, common triggers include pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, people in uniforms, costumes or unusual attire (especially hats), unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises like thunder, wind, construction, fireworks, and appliances. You can try to avoid these triggers or work with a qualified behavior and training specialist to help your dog become more comfortable with these situations.
Preventing dog bites is essential for pet owners because they may be liable for any medical expenses and injuries their pet causes. If you have legal questions about a dog bite incident the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help.